‘Anyone’ in Zim not better than Mugabe
If Mugabe has been removed, never to return, then Zimbabwe stands at a crossroads.
There are Zimbabweans and South Africans who might be reaching for the champagne at the prospect of Robert Mugabe finally heading off into political retirement.
The “anyone’s better than Bob” brigade would do well to temper their enthusiasm, particularly when it comes to believing that ousted vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa – who has reportedly flown back to Harare from a brief exile in South Africa – might ride to the rescue on the turret of a tank.
We remind those optimists that there was celebrating in the wake of Thabo Mbeki being ousted from the ANC leadership by Jacob Zuma in early 2008. Some of the people cheering then are now wistfully remembering the Mbeki era as “the good old days …”
Mnangagwa’s ouster was a crude and unsuccessful attempt by the Mugabe faction in the ruling Zanu-PF party to pave the way for his spendthrift and violent wife, Grace, to succeed him as president.
As one of Mugabe’s lieutenants in the liberation struggle and then head of the notorious Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), Mnangagwa was one of the most powerful men in the history of post-independence Zimbabwe.
He always had his leader’s back and did his bidding, including helping in the slaughter of thousands of Ndebele people in the early ’80s in what became known as the Gukurahundi massacres.
He was never going to go quietly and Grace appears to have underestimated not only his determination but also his backers, including, it appears, the military.
If Mugabe has been removed, never to return, then Zimbabwe stands at a crossroads. The military and Mnangagwa have the opportunity to launch a truly inclusive democracy – or to continue the Zanu-PF kleptocracy.
In the post-Mugabe era, it should be obvious to all concerned that there can be no return to the status quo. Zimbabwe has suffered enough.